Hello. So I finally watched The Crimes of Grindelwald last week, no, two weeks ago! This has been saved in drafts for awhile. Yikes!
And since it’s also been a while since I posted, I thought starting with something concrete, like a review-ish thing, instead of random thoughts, was in order. I feel like I have something to say about this movie and by extension Fantastic Beasts in general, being a Harry Potter fan an all.
I have to admit that this is one of those movies that has far too many special effects for the small screen. I honestly felt like my eyes glazed over a few times trying to take it all in on my tiny screen at home. So note to self, watch remaining Fantastic Beasts movies au cinema. It was a good movie. I liked it, I really did. A solid 3 out of 4.
I understand the struggles with this spin off and why so many critics and fans don’t like it. You have the obviously problematic issues with Johnny Depp’s personal life over-shadowing the initial release. I’m sorry producers but that is the truth whether you like it or not. I don’t care to take sides in his personal affairs. However anybody who hires him while this mess between him an his wife is going on WILL have to deal with negative feedback. Period.
The other even more important part of why this spin off seems to be falling flat has to do with the audience not being able to connect with the characters. With the Harry Potter series we had the books to get into way before the movies came out. The characters had already made an impact on us so the movies just rode that wave and built on it.
Fans may understand the connection that these new characters have to the Harry Potter series but we don’t really know them. Dumblydoorrre being the exception of course.
So it’s either the characters made you feel a connection to them at that moment in the cinema or they didn’t. And I feel as if the creators of COG forgot that, and banked a little too much on these movies being successful because of the HP series. We still need to genuinely feel for and love these characters on their own and unfortunately some of them are just… there.
Now I accept that the first two movies are basically just an introduction to everyone’s arc with some important plot points in between, and that’s fine. Some people have a problem with that, I don’t. What else were the first three HP movies anyway? Shit really started to go down in Goblet of Fire when you think about it.
I feel however that they are treating some random characters like supporting/main characters, before their time. Meaning, if a character isn’t affecting the pace of the story AT THIS MOMENT it is okay to let them do what they came to do, and exit the stage.
And I think this is one of the reasons why many people felt they just couldn’t care more about the characters because they weren’t doing anything for you to care about! Some of them had very little substance but I guess they assumed we’d love them because… Harry Potter!!
Let’s take it back a bit.
We all remember Lavender Brown. Which one, you say? Let’s not get into that. Lavender Brown the character from the Harry Potter series, alright! This girl was a random in the beginning of HP, and she wasn’t trying to be anything else but a side character who was vaguely ever mentioned or shown on screen until the sixth book/movie when she became Ron’s girlfriend. And at that point she affected the arc of the main characters which sowed seeds to deepen the plot between Ron and Hermione later on.
She even further played a part when she was mauled by a werewolf and died and it was heartbreaking for them and by extension us because they knew this girl! They went to school with her for six years and, despite the relationship they each had with her, she was counted as one of the dead in the battle at Hogwarts which helped move Harry’s decision to give himself up to Voldemort. We all know the story!
Point is, she played her part when it was needed. In other words, she remained random until it was time for her to step up and become a supporting character and move along the plot. Get what I mean?
But let’s take Nagini in Crimes Of Grindelwald, for example.
Okay, so we know Nagini ends up serving Voldy eventually and this series will hopefully tell us how she got from being a circus act to the last surviving horcrux of the dark lord in Deathly Hallows. We all want to hear this story! Trust me. I just feel like they tried to make her a supporting character too early and because of that it felt like she was just thrown in with no real purpose but to comfort the forever depressed Credence who can’t figure out if he’s good or bad.
And don’t even get me started on Credence! They try to make his posters seem threatening and ominous but he really is just a sad man-child who is easily manipulated, can’t control his own powers ( understandably not his fault! ) and has zero will power. I get it, he has a tortured past and is volatile, at best! But then I don’t get it, because he’s not scary… at all, and seems like he just wants a family and friends.
I just, he’s confused, I’m confused. I need Barebone to get some back bone before this series is over, that’s all I’m saying!
But back to Nagini.
She has a few lines here an there and a minor speech at the end trying to convince Credence not to go with Grindelwald, but why? We know nothing about her relationship with Credence. Does she love him? Did they know each other before? We don’t even know who she really is, what values and beliefs she has at this point while she’s still human. Why isn’t she for Credence going with Grindelwald if he really might know something about him?
If you are going to make someone a supporting character you need to give the audience supporting information about them. There’s just too much here that is implied. How was Nagini and Credence’s relationship supposed to impact us at the end? What was I supposed to feel about them parting? Nagini’s final speech doesn’t make sense. She seems delusional for thinking he would actually listen to her. It’s only been a few months, girl, you don’t know him. He doesn’t even know who he is! O_O!
It’s feels like Nagini and Credence are here more for the cool special effects they bring, than to actually be interesting characters. I would have liked to see more from them, like how it started, how she came to trust and want to help him and how he feels about her.
At the very least this movie should give Nagini a solid beginning to her own defining arc as a character during the series. They could have done that very simply though. For example:
Credence meets Nagini at the circus. They form a bond over having who they are slowly destroyed by what they are and dealing with succumbing to a faith they can’t control. He ‘finds’ the address of his ‘mother’ and Nagini creates a distraction to help him escape from the circus. But then she leaves with the circus! She exits the stage until she moves the plot again or it’s time to continue her own character arc. Her introduction is made, which is the point, and we don’t have her hanging around doing basically nothing the entire show.
And Nagini is just one glaring example. Newt’s brother is another. I just don’t get him. Why does he treat his brother with so much indifference? Is it really just because he is a little different? It feels like there’s more there. It felt like a Percy Weasley situation but then it wasn’t. I don’t know but if we had taken Theseus out of the picture, nothing much would have changed.
I actually think Leta’s character was written in very well. She was hinted at in the last movie as being important to Newt but her presence didn’t move the plot yet so she wasn’t needed. Not even a flashback.
This time around, we have all the flashbacks giving us more insight into Newt and Leta’s life at school, the reveal of Leta’s heritage so we understand more about Credence (or don’t) and her ultimate sacrifice to help the others which also allows her to be at peace with her own demons. Unless she suddenly comes back in the next movie her character arc has been neatly wrapped up. And her presence did help build the plot because it forced Newt to finally choose a side and willingly take part in the fight against Grindelwald.
So, yes, there are also characters who are wonderful and relatable and well written. Shout out to Jacob and Queenie!
I’m still upset over Queenie. It was a twist, but a good one so I ain’t mad, but… my heart. Our sweet Queenie, why?! This is not the way. cries long tears And my man Jacob! Finally a muggle as a recurring character who represents all of us, and the love we have for the wizarding world.
You know how muggles were in HP. Either it’s the random muggle parent that ruined your life by existing (I’m looking at you Tom Riddle), or the wizard-hating family of Dursleys, or the muggle parents like the Grangers who are cool with it but we never see them, or the worst, the randomly thrown in muggle just there to be killed off, e.g. Frank Bryce.
Jacob is contributing to the plot, questioning, accepting, being amazed and amazing and hopefully here to stay!
But my favourite, and it’s the same for many people, is Newt Scamander. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. I have no problem with him, his weird quirks or rumpled hair. His character is growing and yet he still manages to be un-apologetically himself.
I know critics, not necessarily fans, have a problem with the character that Eddy Redmayne has managed to portray so wonderfully. They think he’s too awkward, is a minor character trying to be a major one (listen…) and some people have even found a way to say that he’s mocking persons with autism.
I don’t get you all. Fans understand Newt Scamander. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw. Newt makes sense to you and I love the way Eddy Redmayne plays him and I want to see more of this character.
See here’s the thing. Hogwarts 101: The people that are sorted into Hogwarts houses are all very different in their own wonderful ways. Now the Harry Potter series gave us a very in depth look at Gryffindor house, and the Gryffindor attitude has even become a staple of J.K. Rowling’s magical universe.
But fans have been aligning themselves with other houses since the inception of the books, not just Gryffindor! No love lost, we’re all apart of Hogwarts at the end of the day. However, what Fantastic Beasts is, what Newt Scamander is, all that is being presented to you now is from the perspective of a Hufflepuff. That’s all!
Sorry, a proud Hufflepuff!
And fans have been waiting for this! To get a hero from the house that they align with or to just see a story from the perspective of another house!
But Newt Scamander is not Harry Potter and will never be Harry Potter because he is NOT a Gryffindor. These two houses could not be farther apart. Well, maybe Hufflepuff and Slytherin are more unalike, but still, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw and even Slytherin share many more traits in common with each other than the patient and loyal Hufflepuffs. Which is why Cedric seemed like such an anomaly in the house even though he was a true Hufflepuff at heart to the very end. ( Cedric!! cries long tears!! )
So I find it very spot on!!! J.K. Rowling!! That a spin off would be with the almost polar opposite to Gryffindor. It’s brilliant! Let people readjust, nothing is wrong with Newt being who he is in these movies.
You won’t find Newt taking flying cars around London or sneaking into Slytherins camp to get information. His bravery is a different sort. A sort propelled by his love for animals that will make him face even the scariest of beasts to help it. He has a naturally caring spirit that can drive him to come out of his shy, awkward shell to help a friend. He’s kind, empathetic and unfailingly fair despite the consequences and although he has a hesitant disposition (when dealing with people anyway), he knows who he is and what he is about.
This is Newt Scamander and to me, a fan, he is perfect just the way he is. My new Hufflepuff darling (sorry Ced), awkward side glances an all. Ain’t it the truth, Tina?
Now other than the COG review, I was prompted to write this post because more than once I have heard (since the first movie actually) that due to the negative reception by critics, Newt might be sidelined as the main character in the upcoming movies, or removed altogether.
So! To that I say… clears throat if you can keep Johnny Depp with all the bad press he’s been bringing to the franchise (yeah, I went there) you CANNOT justify moving Newt’s character because he isn’t the typical hero or dare I say ‘Gryffindor’ enough. glares
No way. You all mess with my Newt, see what happens. In the midst of all the gun blazing heroes in the cinema today, Newt is a different kind of hero that we need to see more of. He reminds us that if Hufflepuff can help save the day so can Ravenclaw and definitely Slytherin, you just have to give them a chance. By the way, we’re waiting for the other houses to get their own stories as well. Take note, Rowling. We want to get into their mind just like Gryffindor. Please do not listen to the critics and disappoint the fans, because critics may lie.